US agriculture and dairy want more containers for export

The U.S. dairy industry is asking President Biden for additional measures to get containers full of U.S. dairy and agricultural goods back on ocean-going vessels. Despite the installation of additional temporary transhipment quays in some ports on the west coast, container transport to Asian countries still shows gaps.

Due to the high demand from Chinese exporters for containers, more and more shipping companies are returning emptied containers empty to China by return, instead of sailing to other American ports to pick up return cargo. As a result, American export shipments are taking longer and longer, at increasingly higher transport rates.

The US Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation say they are grateful for the measures already taken, but say more needs to be done. 

“Supply chain challenges cost US dairy exporters more than 1.5 billion last year alone,” said an agriculture spokesperson. The groups are asking Ministers Vilsack (Agriculture) and Buttigied (Transport) to give priority to quays for ships that are also willing to take back cargo. Special transport routes are also being requested in busy ports for 'fast transit' of foodstuffs. 

priority access to berths” to incoming ships if they agree to load containers with agricultural goods instead of departing with empty containers – as many have done.

They are also asking the Department of Agriculture for more 'pop-up terminals' similar to those already built in the ocean ports of Oakland and Seattle, and to resume publication of the Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report. Until recently, this tracked the availability of sea containers throughout the United States.